Starting off with an original from Phil entitled, "France's Firstname", the group is featured throughout. Notable is drummer Stephane Galland who steps up to the plate with some of the best brush work you will ever hear. There is a segment where he and bassist, Jean-Louis Rassinfosse have a great exchange of ideas before showcasing the talents of pianist Michel Herr. Lot's of ideas going back and forth between the group. If this doesn't leave you breathless.
Ron Carter's, Quick Sketch opens with some light picking from Rassinfosse. Michel is heard with some haunting piano work setting a mysterious tone as Stephane offers his ideas, contributing to the moment as the piece begins to develop. Phil steps to the plate with his trombone to state the melody, and work with the band. I can almost hear Miles Davis's trumpet throughout. Beautiful arrangement.
The classic Romberg/ Hammerstein tune, "Softly As In A Morning Sunrise" opens with Abraham's poignant trombone before setting the grove in a tango like version of this often played number. Again, the band holds down the fort while Phil explores the piece further.
Coltrane's, "Giant Steps" is always a challenge for musicians. Stephane opens the piece with some solid drumming bordering on New Orleans style Second Line marches. In fact the melody is played in this style. Phil's warm sound adds a different dimension to this classic. Taking the melody and playing with it, while the rest of the band offers it's own contributions. Phil and pianist, Michel Herr offer a simply gorgeous duet before the rest of the band join in.
Generally speaking, Phil is not that well known on North American soil. This recording along with his other outings from years past can only help listeners discover a real treasure of the trombone. His ability to form excellent groups in which to showcase not only his talents as a vocalist and trombonist but also his sidemen is a welcome trait that Phil possesses.